Marketers: Let your audience tell you how to market to them

Marketers spend a lot of time trying to figure out how to reach their target audience. Will they read a newsletter, will they click on an ad, do they use LinkedIn? So, we research the average open and click-through rates on different types of digital assets.

Here’s an idea: Why don’t we just ask our audience?

I recently had the opportunity to interview the customers of one of my clients and listen in on interviews conducted with another client’s prospects. All the participants were more than happy to take the time for a discussion.

The result? I now know the best ways to help my clients reach their target audiences. Sure, it’s a mix that includes channels that marketers already use. But now I have the exact right mix.

I know that most of the target audience for one of my B2B clients avoids LinkedIn. They get almost all their work-related information through online searching.

Now I also know which of the top three publications best reaches much of the target audience for a nonprofit client. And that they would click on a display ad if the messaging was relevant. That certainly makes ad-buying decisions easier.

So why aren’t more marketers asking their target audience how they prefer to get work-related information? I hear three common reasons:

  • Our clients are too busy. They won’t say “yes.”
  • Sales doesn’t want us “bothering” clients if it’s not important.
  • We didn’t budget for a third party to conduct research with our clients and prospects.

My recent work is proof that the first reason is untrue. While not every client will say “yes,” I have found that many will. Most people are willing to help, especially if they have a good relationship with you. You also can give incentives, such as a coffee gift card, if you think that will help persuade your clients to speak with you.

As for the second reason, yes, it takes just a little work. Salespeople want leads. Try having a conversation with the salespeople who are saying no. Explain that 30 minutes with their audience can help you bring them more leads because you will get information on what marketing tactics work. You can suggest the gift card idea here too, since that may help persuade sales that their clients will get something in return.

The third reason I often hear is that there is no budget for a third party to conduct interviews with clients and prospects. To resolve this:

  • Put it in your budget as soon as you can.
  • Do it yourself.
  • Pay for it out of savings from a more efficient media budget.

If you’re interested in working with a third party, interview options and get some quotes, so you’re ready when budget becomes available. Marketing projects sometimes get canceled, leaving the budget to do something else. If that doesn’t happen, then at least you’re ready with the right amount as soon as your next budget cycle begins.

If you simply don’t have the budget, another option is to do the interviews yourself or find someone else in your organization to do them. Most marketers are great communicators—it’s part of the job.

Start by working with sales to agree on the clients and prospects you want to interview. Next, create an interview guide to keep you on track and ensure you interview everyone consistently. An interview guide will also help you remain impartial.

It’s critical not to guide participants to list media outlets or other information that you believe they know. The point is to hear from them to ensure you know what information they want and where they want to receive it.

Finding out what types of marketing will work on your target audience really is as simple as asking them.

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Find out how your target audience wants to receive information by asking them. (Image by katemangostar on Freepik.)